Special Commission Meeting Called Over Chamber Flap

1:00 p.m. — Thursday, February 11, 2021

by Anne Mooney / February 9, 2021

After cancelling the February 10 regular Commission meeting, because there would not be a three-member quorum physically present, a Special Meeting of the Commission has been scheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 1:00 pm at the WP Community Center at 721 New England Avenue. Virtual meeting attendance is also available by clicking https://cityofwinterpark.org/government/live-broadcasts/

This will be a Special Commission meeting. Commissioners can vote to take action, and public comment will be taken.

The Commission will discuss events from the February 5 debate between mayoral candidates at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and whether to take action.

Loaded Question

At issue is the final debate question posed to the candidates, in which Commissioners were accused of collusion:

“It was dismaying to see the members of the city commission blatantly colluding to spike the Henderson project, which was approved by P&Z [Planning & Zoning] and was supported by the residents of Winter Park three to one over those opposing the project. As mayor, how would you ensure the commission enacts the wishes of the majority of WP residents, not just the agenda of an entitled few?”

Mayoral candidate Mayor Phil Anderson expressed his own dismay at the content of the question and stated his objection to the decision to air the question to Chamber President Betsy Gardner Eckbert.

After a brief burst of social media activity, each with its own version of events, the Anderson campaign and the WP Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors issued the following joint statement.

Joint statement issued by WP Chamber and Anderson Campaign

“Following an unfortunate incident at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Mayoral Candidate Forum this past Friday, The Chamber and Phil Anderson’s campaign have come to terms with the matter and look forward to placing it behind us in an effort to bring our community together. The Chamber thanks Mr. Anderson and Ms. Sprinkel, the two mayoral candidates, for participating in the Forum.”

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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